Friday, February 27, 2009

Self Discipline

As you can tell from my recent posts, I have been thinking about prom and the costs associated with it.

Yesterday I attended a seminar entitled, Surviving Financial Meltdown: Confident Decisions in an Uncertain World. There were close to 600 people in attendance.

The speaker, Ron Blue, said alot of things that made tremendous sense to me when it comes to money. One of the things he talked about was a four-part financial plan that the average American family could benefit from:

  • Spend less than you earn
  • Think long term with goals and investing
  • Maintain emergency cash
  • Minimize the use of debt
There were many other great points made throughout the presentation, but here is what I walked away thinking about.

I see so many parents going deep into debt in order to make sure their kids have an over the top prom, a car or some other thing. When we as parents do this what are we teaching our children about money? My guess is our children are learning that you don't really have to have the money in hand before you spend it. Which is somewhat risky because that assumes that the money will be there in the future - and based on the experience of the last 12 months - I don't know that we can bank on that. No pun intended.

I don't want to be preachy. It does weigh heavy on my heart that alot of good kids are learning really bad money management principles.

What are your thoughts about this and what are you teaching your kids about managing money?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Preparing Your Teens for Prom

Do you remember your prom?

I remember going to the Oak Ridge High School prom at the Civic Center. My mom made my dress. I thought it was beautiful! My date picked me up. We went to prom and came home. It was a pretty fun evening. I don't remember the evening costing an arm and a leg.

How things have changed. In recent years, couples have spent somewhere between $800 and $1,500 on this annual rite of passage with expectations for a great night of fun.

From limos, manicures, and big hair to fancy dresses and tuxes that match not to mention dinner, prom night has come a long way.....or not. While I agree that prom is a rite of passage, I think things have gotten pretty outrageous. I mean $1,500 is A LOT of money.

I am betting that if teens really put their mind to it, they could get very creative with their spending for prom.

Blink and the 2009 prom season will be here. So now is the time to start thinking about how much you are willing to fork out for this event. If you are planning on your teen paying for half or all of the prom expenses some advance warning will be helpful since they typically don't think past tomorrow.

Looking for some creative ways to cut back on prom costs? Here are a few ideas:
Borrow a dress - who will ever know?
Cook dinner at your house for a group or take a picnic to the park.
Rent a less expensive tux or wear a nice suit.
Have a friend fix your hair.
Have a pre-pro party with your friends and do each other's nails and makeup.
Take pictures ahead of time instead of paying for them at the dance.

Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Prom Season

I can't believe it, but prom season is right around the corner. In the past I have interviewed teens who plan to spend upwards of $500 just for their prom dress. In the past, proms have been a 2.7 billion dollar industry. With the current economic climate I am betting this will not be the case for the 2009 prom season.

Are you the parent of a teen who will be going to prom? I am curious to know what folks are doing or have done in the past to be creative and save money.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

National Marriage Media Campaign

USA Today ran an article yesterday about a federally funded ad campaign to up hold the value of marriage. The reporter talked about the research that was conducted by TRU with more than 3,000 18-30-year-olds which showed that there were five distinct segments:

14% express strong sentiments against marriage
22% aren't ready, but say they eventually plan to wed
23% have a practical view of marital unions and often live together first
19% are enmeshed in the magic of love
22% have a strong belief in the institution of marriage

The research indicates that the motivation for marriage is very high.

So the rub about all of this is whether or not the government should be funding an ad campaign about the value of marriage. What the article didn't address is why the government is doing this in the first place. This is the part that I believe is critical and cannot be left out of the equation.

A significant amount of research indicates that: the collapse of marriage is the principal cause of child poverty in the United States. Approximately 80 percent of long-term child poverty in our country occurs among children from broken or never-formed families.

The lack of marriage in our society clearly has major long-term consequences. How is this type of campaign different from the click it or ticket campaign or the stop smoking campaign?

Did you read the article? What are your thoughts about this?

Monday, February 16, 2009


Don't know if you have been following the incident where 6 Pennsylvania high school teens are facing child pornography charges after three teenage girls allegedly took nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and shared them with male classmates via their cell phones, but if you haven't and you are a parent you might want to pay attention.

In recent conversations with teens across our community they say this is a common practice - which is really scary for a number of reasons. When a group of middle school girls were asked why they sent out nude pictures of themselves they said they were marketing themselves as good date material. Hummmmmmmmmmmm

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported that a survey of 1,280 teens and young adults found that 20 percent of the teens surveyed said they had sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves.

I have to tell you this makes me sad. Our girls are getting some crazy messages if they believe they have to send nude pictures of themselves to boys for them to consider them good dating material. From my conversations, girls tell me that the boys ask them to send these pictures.

In my opinion, something is totally messed up with this whole scenario. For us as parents I think it means we must keep our eyes wide open and not be afraid to talk with our tweens/teens about these issues - even if they don't bring them up.

I personally am committed to not letting the culture raise my child. Not that I am foolish enough to believe she will never do anything wrong, but it won't be because we didn't talk about the crazy stuff that is going on surrounding sex. If our girls believe the best thing they have to offer a guy is their body we are in big trouble.

Would love to hear your thoughts about this.

P.S. Thought you might be interested to know that Facebook has changed its terms. Basically stating that anything that is put on Facebook becomes the property of Facebook even if the account is closed. The Consumerist

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Day

So I did a little research on Valentine's Day. More than 1 billion Valentine's Day cards will be sent and it is estimated that people will spend more than 650 million on food, candy, flowers and other Valentine's Day gifts.

Women will purchase 85 percent of the Valentine cards while men buy most of the candy and bouquets. Thought it was interesting that 64 percent of the men say they do not make plans in advance for a romantic Valentine's Day. Hummmmmmmmm

It does seem kind of funny to me that people spend an incredible amount of money in one day to say, "I love you!" Wonder what they do with the other 364 opportunities they have to say or do something to let their loved ones know how much they mean to them????

I personally think Valentine's Day is kinda fun, but not if that is the only day of the year you go out of your way to say "I love you." I know when Jay and I were dating I was constantly trying to think of creative ways to show him how much I loved him. After a few years of marriage it seems like I stopped being so creative. I'm back in the game when it comes to this because I really do think it matters in a marriage relationship.

So, here are a few of my ideas:

Write down 10 things you appreciate about your spouse and leave it on his/her dresser.
Put a love note in your spouse's wallet.
Bring home a flower every day.
Cook his/her favorite meal just because.
Leave Hugs and Kisses in unexpected places throughout the house.

So, what are your creative ideas??????

Monday, February 9, 2009

What we take for granted

Imagine if every time you went to brush your teeth you had to find a bottle of water to wet your toothbrush or when you went to take a shower you had to be careful not to let water get in your mouth because it could make you sick.

I have just lived through 9 days of that in a foreign country and I have to tell you it made me truly appreciate living in America. Walking the streets of this third world country, my nose was subjected to smells it has never been subjected to - not something I would even care to describe to you - and believe me, you appreciate me for that! Navigating traffic was a... well lets just say I closed my eyes because I couldn't stomach it.

Needless to say, living in a place where I had to watch what I ate and drank, wash my hands constantly with hand sanitizer and deal with filth everywhere, it made me truly aware of how blessed we are even on the worst days.

Every single American has access to a free education. We have programs to help feed those in need. Most people can access clean drinking water and we are allowed to express our opinions freely without fear of government retaliation.

This experience has certainly made me think about all of the things we often take for granted. The reality is I believe we are very blessed and can be thankful everyday for what we have.